About the Humanities


The Humanities at Princeton Public Library

The driving force behind humanities programs at the library is a Challenge Grant received in 2007 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The endowment created through the grant and fundraising efforts provides funding for humanities programs now and into the future.


What are the humanities?

National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, as amended

The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.

Stanford University Humanities Center

The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries.

American Council of Learned Societies

The humanities comprise those fields of knowledge and learning concerned with human thought, experience, and creativity…humanists help us appreciate and understand what distinguishes us as human beings as well as what unites us. Humanists study many different subjects, such as history, languages and literatures, philosophy, art history, and religion…humanistic inquiry is not limited to particular departments or fields but encompasses all areas of research and learning that ask fundamental questions about the way individuals and societies live, think, interact, and express themselves.